* Aug imports 8.45 mln t, up 10.2 pct on year
* Follows many months of record purchases
* High stocks to start clearing as demand picks up (Adds graphic)
BEIJING, Sept 8 (Reuters) - China, the world’s top soybean buyer, imported 8.45 million tonnes of the oilseed in August, customs data showed on Friday, a record for the month of August, as improving margins boosted demand from buyers.
The August figures were up 10.2 percent from last year’s 7.67 million tonnes, but down 16.2 percent from 10.08 tonnes in July, according to figures from the General Administration of Customs of China.
July’s imports were the highest level on records back to 2010, as ports rushed to clear a backlog of cargoes that has lasted for months. Soybean crushers had delayed unloading of bulk carriers bringing supplies in June due to high stocks and a change in taxes.
Some of the August arrivals were also shipments that had been delayed due to ongoing port congestion. Crushers had also purchased fresh beans as margins began to show a more positive trend, said Monica Tu, analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co.
Big shipments throughout the year have led to high levels of stocks, keeping crushing margins in China in negative territory for many months. Margins began improving in June and crushers have been making a profit since late August.
“Imports usually go down in the third quarter as there is a gap between supplies from the U.S. and supplies from South America,” said Tian Hao, senior analyst with First Futures, before the results.
“But it is the peak season for demand with upcoming holidays, so pressure on stocks will be released a little,” Tian said.
China brought in 63.34 million tonnes of soybeans in the first eight months of the year, up from 54 million tonnes at the same point last year, according to customs data. Soymeal is a primary ingredient of livestock feeds.
Imports of vegetable oils in August were 520,000 tonnes, up 92.6 percent from the previous month.
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Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell